Contrary to popular belief, the true legacy of ’90s hip-hop isn’t East vs. West (vs. South), backpacks vs. shiny suits, or the return (and eventual retreat) of the boom-bap. (Though scholarly-types, feel free to explore any or all the above in a sixty-page doctoral thesis if you haven’t already.) No, the actual legacy of ’90s hip-hop is great terrible rap names – both individual artist and group. Oh sure, there are more than ample examples of sub-par rap aliases across eras. But where ’80s names tended to be harmlessly hokey, and contemporary ones often lean bland, the ’90s were on (to use the parlance of them days) anotha level.
Case in point: Da Bushwackas .
This one has it all. There’s the keepin'-it-real rendering of “The” as “Da" (still a tough habit to break as evidenced by a look around dis very blog). There’s the fact that "Bushwackas" - despite being derived from the colonial era term for guerilla warfare "bushwhacker," representative of the crew's Flatbush BK stomping ground, and the press release's assertion that "it is symbolic for 'ambush'" - sounds like a crude nickname for something from the personal grooming aisle at Duane Reade. That, or the grimiest gardening tool ever invented.
And then there’s the unfortunate spelling. If you’re a hip-hop artist, one word you may want to avoid as part of your stage name is “wack” (something even this fellow understands). Another word high on that list would be “ass.” Da Bushwackass managed to include both – plus placed them side-by-side to form the even further damaging “wackass.” (Though to be fair, somewhere between the time when the group’s record label bio and postcard art were printed someone wisely convinced them to drop the last ‘s.')
Nearly as memorable are the individual members’ names. We're hoping that Fish B. One chose his name because he was a big Fishbone fan. Likewise with regards to rapper Gravedigga and the Gravediggaz. As for B.D. Buggz, well, besides possessing the best unsavory moniker this side of Wu D-Teamer Shorty Shitstain, he was obviously ahead of his time with the whole bedbugs thing.
The irony of all of this? The lone single these guys officially released, the Buckwild-produced “Caught Up In the Game,” was a record we always liked. No amount of actual musical merit, however, can detract or distract from Da Bushwackass (a/k/a Da Bushwackas)’s most valued contribution to hip-hop - one of the greatest worst names in rap history. Salute!